To: Joint Committee on Election Laws
Fr: Janet Domenitz, Executive Director, MASSPIRG
April 3, 2013
Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony today on S.327, Reforming Election Laws, sponsored by Chairman Finegold. I am representing the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG), a statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing members in cities and towns across the state. We do research, advocacy, and organizing around consumer protection, public health, and democracy issues.
Our organization supports S.327 and all of its provisions, but I would like to highlight three of them in my testimony:
#1- Online voter registration: The collecting, exchanging, and storing of information through the internet now boggles the mind. From the website Mashable, a couple of data points: In one 24 hour period:
a-294 billion emails are sent (it would take 2 years to process that many pieces of mail in the US)
b-18.7 million hours of music is streamed on Pandora (if one computer started streaming Pandora in the year 1 AD it would still be going)
c-iPhone sales now outpace the human population (378,000 IPhones sold in a day, 371,000 babies born)
So, with that as some background, it must be time that we can go online and register to vote.
#2-Pre-registration for 16-17 year olds: First of all, as a parent of a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old, I’m all for anything that introduces the concept of ‘good citizen’ into their lives as soon as possible. And the facts reinforce how important it is to introduce teenagers to voting early.
-According to an organization called Campus Vote, well over a quarter of college students reported in 2010 that they did not register to vote because they did not know where or how to register or they missed the deadline.
-According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, (CIRCLE) Massachusetts has the highest percentage of new eligible voters (18-21), at 9.5% of the population.
-CIRCLE also did a poll of 4,483 young Americans, ages 18-24, conducted from the day after the election until December 21. Of those who recalled studying voting during high school, 60.2% turned out to vote in 2012–as opposed to only 43% of those who recalled no civic education course. The more that respondents’ teachers had taught them about voting, the more likely they were to vote in 2012.
#3- Early voting: My beloved father-in-law often used the expression “…in today’s world.” So, in his honor, I assert that in today’s world, where people have family, work, school and other commitments in a hectic and seemingly 24/7 cycle of activity, allowing for something as important as voting over the course of a 13 hour period on a designated day in the middle of the week seems inhibiting. Early voting will allow people to exercise their franchise a bit more conveniently.
Thank you for your consideration.